COAL TOWNSHIP - The Shamokin Area School Board will eliminate a $3.1 million deficit in its next budget by using money from its existing revenue surplus.

The surplus, or fund balance, stood at $7.5 million on June 30, the end of the 2012-13 fiscal year. Nearly $1.8 million is planned for withdrawal to cover the current school year's budget deficit. Add that to the $3.1 million for 2014-15 and the surplus is predicted to dip to $2.6 million.

It's been a steady decline for the surplus over recent years. It had exceeded $10.3 million in 2008.

Expenditures in 2014-15 are projected at $31,928,003 compared $28,755,618 revenue, according to Business Manager Karen Colangelo.

Spending is up $1.9 million compared to 2013-14.

Employee salaries and benefits combined to make up 64.5 percent of projected spending. The budget doesn't account for potential increases since union contracts for teachers and for non-professional employees are expired under negotiation. Terms of the expired contracts remain.

Colangelo gave a presentation on the budget during Tuesday's meeting of the Shamokin Area school board.

She said the district realized a savings of $243,637 in professional services after taking over the education programs at Northwestern Academy. However, the district is charged approximately $109,000 each month for rent at the academy, a fee administrators are seeking to reduce.

Retirement contributions are projected to top $1.7 million, a near 21 percent increase over 2013-14. Those contributions will rise between 24 percent and 30 percent over the following four years.

The school board is expected to adopt a preliminary version of the budget in May and a final version in June.